WASHINGTON — Rep. Jeff Van Drew left the Democratic Party days after the House voted to impeach President Donald Trump. Now, some of his former colleagues want their donations back.
More than a dozen members of Congress and political action committees donated to Van Drew’s upcoming 2020 reelection campaign, according to Federal Election Commission data. But a month after the New Jersey Democrat turned Republican announced his departure from the party, several of his congressional colleagues say attempts to get back more than $30,000 they’ve donated have been ignored.
Among the groups seeking to get their money back is the House Majority PAC, a super PAC focused on keeping a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives. “We have not received the $2500 refund we requested and that speaks to the lack of integrity Jeff Van Drew has displayed throughout this entire episode, in which Jeff Van Drew has repeatedly told his supporters one thing before doing another,” Caitlin Legacki, a spokesperson for the PAC told BuzzFeed News in a statement.
“Sadly, it is not surprising that Jeff Van Drew continues to campaign as a Republican while using money raised by and for Democrats to fuel his campaign,” Legacki added. “We would still like our money back.”
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer donated $4,000 to Van Drew’s 2020 campaign. Hoyer’s aide told BuzzFeed News that Van Drew was asked to return the donations but hasn’t done so yet. Democratic Reps. Kathleen Rice of New York, Bill Foster of Illinois, and Ted Lieu of California have not received their donations back either.
“We did contribute to Van Drew last quarter and we have requested the money back,” Lieu’s spokesperson told BuzzFeed News. “We have not heard back from his campaign yet.”
Van Drew, who represents southern New Jersey, voted against the impeachment inquiry and sided with House Republicans not to impeach Trump last year. A day after the House impeached the president, Van Drew pledged his “undying support” to the president during an avail in the Oval Office of the White House.
The first-term lawmaker's campaign did not respond to questions for this article.
On Tuesday, Van Drew appeared at Trump’s Wildwood, New Jersey rally where he spoke for just under three minutes during Trump’s hourlong campaign stump. White House counselor Kellyanne Conway — also from Southern New Jersey — appeared at the rally as well.
The same day rumors emerged that Van Drew would leave the party, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which works to elect Democrats to the House, worked with CFO Consulting Partners, a financial consulting firm representing Van Drew’s campaign, to ensure donations were reimbursed to Democratic members. But a spokesperson for the DCCC told BuzzFeed News that midway through the negotiations Van Drew’s campaign left CFO and switched to Red Curve Solutions — a financial compliance firm usually contracted by Republicans in Congress. Since then, the DCCC has been advising Democrats to reach out to Red Curve directly. Red Curve did not respond to a request for comment.
The DCCC was able to secure returns for the committee’s chair, Rep. Cheri Bustos, along with thousands of dollars Reps. Nita Lowey of New York, Frank Pallone of New Jersey, Julia Brownley of California, and Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland had given to Van Drew’s campaign. The Blue Dog Coalition — a group of moderate Democrats in Congress — also received a refund for the $6,000 they donated to Van Drew.
But other donations are still sitting in Van Drew’s campaign account as he seeks reelection as a Republican. The DCCC is also recommending that New Jersey residents request refunds from his campaign, per a sample letter the committee provided to BuzzFeed News.
“Congressman Van Drew betrayed his donors, his colleagues, and the New Jersey nurses and school teachers who sent him their hard-earned dollars,” Lucinda Guinn, executive director of the DCCC, told BuzzFeed News in a statement. “We’ll continue working with elected officials and small donors across the country to help them recoup the money they gave to Van Drew when he still voted with Planned Parenthood 100 percent of the time and was publicly pledging to stay a Democrat.”